Sean K. Cureton

“The Dude” for the “The Duke”

In Movie Reviews: 2010 on December 31, 2010 at 2:40 pm

True Grit
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
3 ½ out of 4 stars

The new Coen Brothers film, True Grit, a remake of the 1969 John Wayne film, is one of the best Coen Brothers movies made to date. Based on the novel by Charles Portis, the Coen Brothers have made a film that is both true to its source material and original in its own right. Where the John Wayne film seemed clean and held back, the Coen Brothers film is unrelenting, and more true to the title of the film.

Based in 1870’s America, True Grit tells the tale of Mattie Ross, played by Hailee Steinfeld, a young girl out for vengance against the man who killed her father. In order to confront this task, Mattie enlists the help of U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, played by “the Dude” himself, Jeff Bridges. Along the way, Mattie and Rooster grudgingly accept the assistance of Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, played by Matt Damon, who is both a help and a hindrance. By the end of the film, Mattie finds and captures the man she is after, named Tom Chaney who is played by Josh Brolin, and the three heroes go home with heads held high.

The sheer mastery that is this film does not stop with its timeless Western story, but is enforced by its stellar cast, breathtaking cinematography, and dark humor, that could only be provided by the Coen Brothers. Jeff Bridges gives another phenomenal performance of his entire career as Rooster, the one-eyed fat man, as he stumbles along the screen shooting a pistol in one hand, drinking whiskey with the other, and cracking wise all at the same time. Matt Damon is also in top acting shape in this film, and gives LaBoeuf life where Glen Campbell’s 1969 performance was lacking to say the least. And Hailee Steinfeld delivers her big acting break in a performance of a lifetime as Mattie Ross.

Beyond the stellar cast, True Grit has some of the best looking shots of any film this year. Cinematographer Roger Deakins really gives the American West life in this film, and his beautiful shots offset the darker content of the narrative of the film. And beyond that, the Coen Brothers’ new film is also just as funny as any of their other films. Despite the fact that this film is about murder and vengeance in blood, the Coen Brothers still manage to find something to joke about in their True Grit, with laughs coming mainly from the usage of dialect and their own comments on the narrative’s various situations.

Come Oscar time, True Grit will no doubt be nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, as it should be.

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